Sound therapy is an effective way to treat or minimize tinnitus symptoms. Evidence suggests that both customized and non-customized therapy may lend relief.

If you experience tinnitus, you’re likely searching for an end to the ringing, buzzing, or whirring in your ears. Here’s what to know about the various sound therapies available, as well as how to access them.

What is sound therapy?

Sound therapy can come in many forms, some of them generic and some that custom designed for your tinnitus symptoms. Such as:

  • playing white, pink, or brown noise to mask or mix with the tinnitus sound
  • using hearing aids to amplify sounds from your environment and minimize tinnitus
  • playing relaxing, repetitive sounds like ocean waves to mask the tinnitus
  • using personalized notched therapy to match and eliminate the perception of the tinnitus frequency
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Though more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions, numerous studies have shown that participants have experienced tinnitus relief through sound therapy, including:

  • In a small 2018 study of 23 patients, researchers found that 72% of patients said 30 minutes of high-frequency sound therapy was effective at reducing tinnitus symptoms.
  • A 2020 report found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) combined with sound therapy appears to reduce tinnitus-related distress. However, more and higher quality evidence is needed to know for sure.
  • A 2021 review noted that sound therapy (acoustic stimulation, hearing aids, or sound generators) is recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) to mask tinnitus. Researchers noted that although research is inconclusive, so far no adverse effects have been reported.
  • In a small 2021 study of 29 patients, researchers concluded that notched sound may help alleviate tinnitus symptoms by reorganizing the emotional center in the brain. Numerous studies have found that tinnitus is closely linked to emotions, but researchers found that 1 month of therapy alters blood oxygen in specific areas of the brain linked to them.
  • A small 2022 study of 58 tinnitus patients concluded that the longer a patient engages in (mixing point) sound therapy each day, the more effective it is. In the study, the patients who listened for 3 to 5 hours/day reported experiencing greater relief than the 1 hour/day group.

Is it possible to noise-cancel tinnitus?

Yes, it’s possible to noise-cancel tinnitus through techniques like notched-sound therapy or tinnitus pitch-matched therapy. Notched therapy “notches out” a specific frequency tailored to that of the tinnitus ring, which reduces the perception of the tinnitus ring or can cancel it out altogether.

An application like Audio Notch can aid you in this process.

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So far, there’s not enough evidence to know what sound or frequency is the most effective at reducing tinnitus.

But in a small 2021 study of 30 patients, researchers found that notched and non-notched sounds were equally effective at providing tinnitus relief. This suggests that listening to any generated noise may be just as promising as using a notched sound that is specifically matched to your tinnitus frequency.

However, in a 2020 review, researchers said they found customized sound therapy to be generally more effective than non-customized sound therapy in reducing symptoms.

Customized sound therapy involves techniques such as:

  • notched-music training
  • tinnitus pitch-matched therapy
  • neuromodulation therapy
  • modulated wave therapy
  • auditory discrimination training

And non-customized therapy involves:

Want to get involved with the research?

If you’d like to help scientists learn more about how essential oils or other forms of alternative medicine can help treat tinnitus, you may be eligible for a clinical study. Check out ClinicalTrials.gov to learn more about current open studies and surveys.

Make sure to discuss participation in a study with your primary healthcare team, especially if it involves any change to your regular treatment plan.

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Though more research is needed to know for sure, sound therapy appears to be a promising, noninvasive way to manage tinnitus symptoms.

Both customized therapy (like notched sound) and non-customized (like listening to white noise) appear to be effective ways to reduce or even totally eliminate symptoms.